Thursday, December 27, 2012

Canning Meat - Revisited

Meat (Photo credit: yum9me)
When people think about home canning they think naturally about canning vegetables, apricot preserves, tomato sauce, green beans, zucchini, etc. However, canning meats is also a popular use of the canning process and meats are a very dense and important source of nutrition. So, if you are into home canning, don't  forget about canning meats of all types.

People who are on the paleo diet should keep in mind that canning meat can be a great way to always have readily available meats for easy paleo recipes

Sep 26, 2007 ... Preserving beef, chicken, pork, and wild game is just a matter of...

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Preserves in Action: Fried Eggs, Avocado, and Tomato Jam

I love it when people get creative with other people's recipes...

The jar situation in my fridge is way out of hand (though I did finish off two jars of jam last week!) and so it’s time to redouble my efforts to press my preserves into action in new and creative ways.
This particular meal was inspired by a sandwich that my friend Sara posted on her blog, The Cozy Herbivore. Her verision was inspired by a sandwich that the Luck Old Souls truck serves on Sundays at the Headhouse Square Farmers market. I’ve never ordered it there, but I thought that the combination of eggs and jam seemed like a very good idea.

View the Original article
Enhanced by Zemanta

Quick Pickled Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco broccoli
Romanesco broccoli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Everyone knows that broccoli has a huge amount of vitamins and anti-oxidants, more than most other vegetables. That's why it's good to have a good number of broccoli recipes. Here's one for Pickled Romanesco Broccoli...

As Andrew Weil has said - broccoli is the king of vegetables, in regard to vitamins and anti-oxidants that is...

A couple weeks back, I bought a bright green head of romanesco broccoli. It was more money than I should have spent on a single handful of produce, but ever since trying it a few years back as a pickle on the Farmhouse Platter at Supper, I’ve had a weakness for it.

View the Original article
Enhanced by Zemanta

Honey-Sweetened Chestnut Butter

one and a half pounds chestnuts
one and a half pounds chestnuts (Photo credit: Marisa | Food in Jars)
If you've never tasted chestnut butter then you should check this out...

The first fall that my family lived in Portland was magical. We were escapees from Southern California and everything about the changing leaves, chilly nights, and morning frost was novel and thrilling to me. I was also innocently astonished by the new varieties of edible bounty around us.

Across the driveway, Mrs. Gosling grew raspberries and a wild herb garden. On the other side, Jan and Guy had pumpkins, beans, and apples on their tiny city plot. We had had plums and guava trees in Los Angeles, but the food of the Pacific Northwest felt sturdy and sustaining.

View the Original article
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Preserves in Action: Hanukkah Edition

Don't forget about rugelach

Hanukkah took me by surprise this year. It started last Saturday night, which felt impossibly early to me (I still wake up most days thinking it’s November, so I’m woefully out of sync). The days since have passed in a blurry haze of deadlines, gift wrapping, and holiday parties. Though I’ve struggled to wrap my hands around this holiday of miracles and illumination, I’ve somehow still managed to light my menorah (two nights out of six so far) make a couple of appropriately celebratory foods. They both just happen to involve preserves.

The first thing I made was a batch of rugelach. These cookies are eaten all year long, but are particularly traditional around Hanukkah. The dough is made with butter, cream cheese, flour and just a bit of sugar. After some time in the fridge to chill, you roll out the dough, spread it with fruit jam, and spread chopped walnuts and raisins over top. The round of dough is sliced into wedges, rolled, chilled (ideally, at least. I rarely have room in my fridge to chill a sheet pan) and baked. They are divine and when I make them, I feel connected to all the women in my family who rolled these same cookies long before I was born.

View the Original article


I am re-posting this as I am in agreement with this heartfelt sentiment regarding the recent shootings in Newton.

The events in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday continue to make my throat tight and my heart heavy. I cannot make sense of it and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’ve long been taught to respond to even the most senselessly awful events with love and compassion. The eternal hope is that the goodness of life will eventually outweigh the horrors. But when something this inexplicably vile happens, it can be hard to find that spark of hopeful light in all the darkness.
Like a number of other bloggers out there, I am going to take a break from the recipes, the holiday frenzy, and the giveaways today to create a little space for all of us who are still fumbling our way back to a new, tender balance.

(If you’re in need of a little boost, I suggest reading or watching President Obama at last night’s prayer vigil. It made me cry and gave me hope that things might finally start to change.)

View the Original article

Holiday Giving: Gifts for Jar Lovers

Last week, I wrote about some of my favorite canning tools and the reasons they might just make good holiday gifts for the canners in your lives. This week I want to feature some of the odds and ends that aren’t canning necessities  but make a jar-filled life a little bit prettier and more fun (of course, I intended to get this posted on Monday, but that knock-out flu I had has put me behind in my posting. So sorry!).

First on the list is Weck Jars. They’re good for canning, for dry goods storage, and if you spring for a set of snap-on plastic lids, they make fantastic leftover containers. Because they’re a bit pricier than your average box of jars, they’re an indulgence, but isn’t that what the holiday season is all about? Once hard to find, they’re now available for online order from the U.S. distributor, Kaufmann Mercantile and Mighty Nest, and in Williams-Sonoma and Crate & Barrel stores.

View the Original article

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Low Sugar Mulberry Jam

Cutting back on sugar and carbs is all the rage, but sometimes we need to treat ourselves to something sweet, right? So here's a recipe for low sugar mulberry jam that you don't have to feel too guilty about...

I was asked for a recipe for . Since I didn't have such a recipe. I decided to do some experimenting. Actually all I did was buy a box of no sugar needed Sure-Jell and followed the instructions for low sugar raspberry jam, but replaced the raspberries with mulberries.

It set just fine and tasted great. May be I should use low sugar pectin more often.

5 cups crushed mulberries
4 cups sugar (divided)
1 package low sugar powdered pectin

Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the powdered pectin. Stir the pectin/sugar mix into the berries. Bring to rolling boil over high heat. Add remaining sugar, return to boil, and boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam, if necessary. Fill hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Add lids and process 10 minutes in a water bath.

High altitude instructions
1,001 - 3,000 feet : increase processing time by 5 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet : increase processing time by 10 minutes
6,001 - 8,000 feet : increase processing time by 15 minutes
8,001 - 10,000 feet : increase processing time by 20 minutes

View the Original article

Mirabelle Plum Conserve

The mirabelle plum is a small, orange plum with a full, sweet flavor. It has long been a specialty of the French region of Lorraine. Check out this delicious recipe for Mirabelle plum conserve...
2 pounds mirabelles, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
a few gratings of lemon zest
1 tablespoon gruner veltliner or sauvignon blanc
1/4 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted

1) Combine the mirabelles, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and allow to macerate for 30 minutes. Turn the fruit-sugar mixture into a small preserving pan and gently bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour back into the mixing bowl. Press parchment paper onto the surface and refrigerate overnight.

2) The next day, turn the fruit-sugar mixture in a small preserving pan. Add the wine. Bring to a boil over high heat, and reduce quickly for four minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the walnuts, and continue cooking to the gel point, another two to four minutes.

3) Ladle the hot preserve into prepared half-pint jars. Run a skewer around the inside edge of the jar to release any air pockets. Seal the jars and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields 1 1/2 pints

View the Original article

Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop has been used in folk medicine to aid in digestion. It has been used by the American Indians as to cure wounds, colds and coughs, and diarrhea. It's aromatic leaves have been used as seasoning, tea and even as an ingredient in potpourri. But who would know it makes a great flavorful addition to apricot jam...

In case you missed this, a reader named JBE left an interesting comment on the recipe for apricot jam, below. He wrote:

I made this recipe last year, and I added fresh Anise Hyssop to the mix. About 4 nice sprigs, twined together and let it simmer with the apricots during the process. Took it out right before set point. I've had multiple people say this is the BEST jam they've ever had. Going to do another batch this year. Thanks for the recipe.
I had to look up in Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference. The herb is a native North American species of the genus Agastache, perennials of the mint family. You use the leaves, which have an anise aroma and flavor, as the name suggests, and a sweet taste. Norman says that is typically used in teas, but that they also can be used in marinades for seafood or pork; with winter vegetables such as beets and sweet potatoes; with summertime zucchini and tomatoes; in omelettes and salads, and--wouldn't you know--with summer fruit such as peaches and apricots. Norman also suggests covering leaves with warm honey to infuse the flavor, which sounds like a good saving the season project...

View the Original article

Peach Butter

Here's a great recipe for making fruit butter. you can use pumpkin, peaches or persimmons. Thanksgiving is coming up and there is still time to make this wonderful dessert...

I'm sorry I haven't told you about this already, but I've been so behind on everything because of apricot season...

Let me go back a step: earlier this year I was tickled pink to get a call from West Elm, and we talked about giving catalogue readers and Front & Main readers a few recipes to go along with West Elm's collection of kitchen essentials, including wire-bail jars and lots of other stuff you need for saving the season. I liked the idea of quick jam and fresh pickles—that is, things that don't need to be canned in a boiling-water bath, but can instead be stored in the fridge. In the summertime when it's so hot outside, sometimes you just don't want to bother with the water bath.
This recipe, for fruit butter, can be adapted to whatever fruit you have: peaches, plums and apricots now, or, in the months ahead, pumpkins, persimmons and winter squash.

 4 to 5 pounds of pumpkin, peaches or persimmons, sugar
optional: spices, bourbon or brandy

1  Peel the fruit and cut it into ½” chunks. Place it in a pot with enough water to cover the bottom ½” deep. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until the fruit is very soft.

2  Mash the fruit with a potato masher or pass it through a food mill. Measure the puree and note the quantity. For every cup of puree, measure ½ cup of sugar.

3  Add the puree and sugar to a large pot. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced by half — 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll know the butter is ready when a spoonful chilled in the freezer for one minute doesn’t leak liquid at its edge.

4  If you like, stir in 2 teaspoons bourbon or brandy, or add ¼ teaspoon of ground spice. Taste and adjust to your liking.

5  Ladle the hot fruit butter into airtight glass or plastic containers, filling to within ¼” of the top. Put on the lids, allow the containers to cool and store in the refrigerator. Use within a month.
Yields about 2 pints

View the Original article

A Canning Jar Story

I don't know what made me think of this story. I also don't suppose it really fits into this blog since it isn't about preserving food, but what the heck. After all canning jars can be used for more than just preserving food.

My Mother (who was born in 1923) said that when she headed out to school each day, her mother would give her a canning jar full of cold soup and some bread and butter.

The teacher would put a large pan of water on the stove that was used to heat the school. She would put all of the kids jars in the pan. By noon, they had hot soup to eat.

Prior to when she told me that, I didn't think of kids at that time even having hot lunch at school

View the Original article

Friday, June 29, 2012

Four Herbs Everyone Should Grow

April 30th, 2012

It has been a horribly cold April here in Michigan, after a blissfully warm March. I haven’t wanted to go outside, let alone do any gardening, I hope May is better. I have, however, wanted to do a post on herbs for awhile and since I’ve got nothing else to post about (except maybe to complain again about late frosts) I thought I would do so now.

I really enjoy growing herbs for a few reasons. I like to cook, and no matter how you slice it fresh herbs generally knock the pants off of store varieties. I like to save money, and herbs are pretty expensive in the store, especially fresh ones. They also make unique and interesting plants, at home in the vegetable garden or the ornamental garden. If you only grow four herbs, these are the four I recommend.

1. Mint

Mint is awesome, I personally love mint flavored deserts, shakes, chocolate, etc. In the summer I like to make a cool cucumber salad with a little mint and cukes from the garden. Mint also comes in a wide variety of flavors. Spearmint and peppermint are standard, but gardeners have hybridized a whole variety of other cultivars with hints of various flavors like pineapple, apple, even chocolate. Plant them all.

View the Original article

Cut Down My Cherry Tree

June 10th, 2012

A couple days ago I , and unlike George Washington, I didn’t feel bad about it.

I bought this tree in 06 or 07, and it grew like crazy, lots of wood, lots of leaves. The caliper (diameter of trunk) on it flew past a pear tree I had planted in 04, about 10 inches across, and this was supposed to be a dwarf. It also got significantly taller than that pear tree, even with some pruning.

I believe it was supposed to be a starkcrimson sweet cherry, but maybe they messed up sending it to me.

It fruited for me a couple years, I probably got only about 10 total cherries though, and they didn’t taste good. Not sour, not sweet, bland.

Meanwhile it had completely shaded one of the few areas of my property that gets significant sun, depriving me of some real estate to grow vegetables or other edibles.

It was also infested with black cherry aphids, every year.

View the Original article

Thursday, June 28, 2012

To Can or Not to Can. That Is the Question.

: meaning that I am new to canning. And last fall I purchased a shopping bag of persimmons. Then I did what all newbies should: scouted for a tested recipe from a reputable source.

The search produced few results–persimmons are, it turns out, not a popular fruit to can. Not a single hit from my favorite resources: the National Center for Home Preservation website (I love the search function), Ball Canning website, or my other canning books. To add insult to injury, the conflicting information online gave me little hope that I could successfully water bath the fruit without a pH meter to determine how much acid was needed to remain safe.

Turns out (pardon me if this is already common knowledge), there are many varieties of persimmons with a variety of characteristics that make some of them unappealing to can, including astringency. Fortunately, I had picked a non-astringent variety.

In the end, I scrapped my processing aspirations for the safest option. One that my Master Canner pals would be proud of: refrigerated persimmon pickles and refrigerated persimmon butter.

To my newbie delight, the un-processing adventure was a success. Refrigerated foods in cans might not last all year in your cupboard but are just as tasty. The butter was introduced at a dinner party (within a thumbprint cookie) and the refrigerator pickles made a debut for Thanksgiving. I’ve taken on a new title that no longer reflects my length of experience but my passion for safe preservation.

As a founding member of our collective, I’m here to tell you that us newbies are doing more than a riding trend and blogging about it. We know our limits. And hopefully, we are helping to creating a forum for conversation about safe preservation.

View the Original article

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why you should grow Kale

Kale is getting a lot of press these days, it's high in iodine for one thing, maybe it is time to take a more detailed look at Kale

Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale are some of the healthiest vegetables you can grow. The health benefits are almost too numerous to mention, but they can help prevent cancer in more than one way, and they can even help fight cancer, literally. Regular readers will know I’m a fan of science, so this isn’t just holistic hearsay, there are actual peer reviewed studies showing these effects. They contain antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer by removing oxidative stress on our cells. They also contain relatively unique compounds that help our cells detoxify, thus removing potential carcinogens from our body. Then there is another compound that can literally cause cancer cells to kill themselves. They’re also good for preventing inflammation, and can lower your cholesterol. Cruciferous vegetables are superfoods, some more than others, kale would seem to be more than others.

But this isn’t a health blog, it is a gardening blog, so lets talk about gardening.

I’ve grown cabbage, and it works, but critters get into it like crazy. Slugs, ground hogs, rabbits. When it gets damaged it ruins the head, and you have only 1 head per plant. Plus, cabbage is has a little less nutritional density compared to the other cruciferous vegetables, and it is really cheap at the store so why not just buy it? I always try to consider cost when planting something, since I have limited space, I want the most bang for my buck...

View the Original article

Why Butternut Squash Hurts Your Hands

This blogger hopes to solve an age old Butternut Squash mystery. His finding show that sometimes direct experience is better than anything you can find on the Internet...

Many a gardener will grow butternut squash, and eagerly watch the fruits develop, counting the days, hoping they’re not ruined by an early frost. Then harvest time, and the gardener can’t wait. They take the squash inside and immediately start cutting it up, about 5 minutes later they’re aghast and trying to figure out why their hands are red and peeling and constricted. Water doesn’t help, “What is going on?” they cry.
I was cutting up a butternut squash this morning and my hands got hurt again, just a little bit though, because I was careful to touch exposed flesh as little as possible. It got me wondering about the technical details of why it happened. I knew the broad strokes, as they were, but as a bit of a science geek I wanted to know more. Unfortunately after going on the Internet I found nothing but incorrect information, even Wikipedia had it wrong. You had one forum where some guess made a hearsay guess, and then people cite this as fact, and all over the Internet from forums, to blogs, to Yahoo answers, the incorrect information is repeated.
Suffice it to say, I decided someone needed to put the correct information on the Internet.

Before I tell you why your hands get wounded like they were dipped in acid when handling butternut squash, let me tell you what is NOT the cause.


View the Original article

How to Build an Island Bed with Retaining Wall Bricks

Every Gardener should know what an island bed is, just in case it comes up in conversation...

Island bed? What is that? No, it isn’t a bed with palm trees. An island bed is a bed not connected to anything, such as your foundation or property line. It exists as an island, alone in a sea of grass. This blog post will be about how to make a raised one with retaining wall bricks. Why build it up as a raised bed? Well, in additional to looking better, giving you the opportunity to improve the soil, and improving drainage. You also have to bust up less sod, which is my least favorite gardening task, and I’m sure your’s as well.
Step 1: Draw your shape...

View the Original article

Friday, June 22, 2012

Putting the P back in Fertilizer

Ok folks, we no longer have an excuse NOT to pee on our gardens...

So we have come to this, you’ve heard of the “golden rule” but this is perhaps the “golden question” can you use pee to fertilize your garden?

The answer is yes. Not only have you been wasting a perfectly good nitrogen source down your toilet, you’ve also been using water unnecessarily too. My city bills me for water usage, and I figure every time I pee outside I’m saving a nickle while providing free fertilizer to my garden.

For those who do not know, pee is sterile, yes, it is. Unless you have a UTI, it is sterile. Pee is filtered from the blood, not from your colon. Once it gets into the air it can be colonized by bacteria and whatnot, but as it leaves the body, its sterile, you aren’t spreading anything, except good fertilizer. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that you could drink your pee like an idiot. Urinating is how your body filters your blood, adding the stuff right back in is not healthy. If you’re ever in a survival situation, don’t drink your pee. Just don’t do it. Make a simple solar still, it isn’t hard, you can purify it easily enough, don’t be lazy like Bear Grylls.
Urine is mostly water, with added urea (which is basically nitrogen), some salt, and trace other compounds, nothing dangerous to your garden. It can be acidic though, so you don’t want to actually pee on your plants. Also, just personally, I don’t pee on my vegetable garden. It isn’t dangerous, but that doesn’t mean I want to risk splashing on my food. I’ll grow vegetables in well composted cow manure, which is definitely more gross, and plenty of people will do the deed in the veggie patch, but I won’t. I will pee into my compost and then later use that compost in the vegetable garden, but I let it all compost for awhile of course.

View the Original article

Pumpkin Butter Recipe is Great for Home Canning

Great Pumpkin Butter Recipe, save this one for the fall and beyond, it's great for home canning!

3 1/2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
1 package liquid fruit pectin
4  cups sugar
1/4 cup of water (if needed)

I mixed everything but the pectin in a large pot and brought to a boil.
I cooked several minutes and added most of the water.   I then added the pouch of
pectin and stirred.  The was thick but not too thick, it poured.
I ladeled into pint jars and the PRESSURE CANNED the jars at 11 PSI for 15 minutes.
I also took extra time bringing the canner up to heat and vented just a bit longer than I usually do.  I keep reading how unsafe is to BWB. 

I did this weeks ago and just opened a jar and it is great.  The pressure canning did not affect the taste.  It is thick.  It was not thick when I took it out of the canner.  Time thickened it.

View the Original article

Sausage Patties

Does anyone still have a great recipe for canning Sausage Patties? It's such a lost art! If you do please share, until then this perfectly fine recipe will do...

I am going to have my grandkids off and on all summer. I had seen in the yahoo boards a method to can sausage and decided to try it. I got a roll of Jimmy Dean sausage (on sale) and cut into patties using a canning lid as my guide, lightly fried the patties on med-high until brown on both sides (they shrink a bit), but not cooked through. I then packed into the jars with the small amount of grease left
in the pan and pressure cooked for 75 minutes (pints) at 11 lbs pressure. I opened and they are good. I am now going to do more, lightly stir frying some for sausage crumbles and making more patties. I used a wide mouth jar for this. I will wait for a huge sale before doing in bulk.

View the Original article

Turkey Cassoulet Soup by the Jar

What could be better than Turkey Cassoulet Soup - unless it's Turkey Cassoulet Soup with bacon and sausage!

Per jar...

1 cup chopped cooked turkey
1/2 cup dry white beans (rinsed)
1/2 cup sliced sausage (any kind)
2 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp garlic chopped or powdered or to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt pepper to taste

add chicken broth to the fill line and cook 90 minutes quarts at 11 lbs pressure or for your altitude.

I love this soup, I did not use sausage because I was out of it and did not want to go to the store. My Mom took me to Sweet Tomatoes and I had this soup, came home and tried to recreate it. Next time I will add the sausage and a bit more dry beans. I love the texture of the beans, not soggy and fully cooked. A great way to use leftovers, which is why I did this recipe by the jar.

View the Original article

Thursday, June 21, 2012


How sweet they’ve been, the first days of Spring. Though March played with our sense of seasonal order, growling out like a temperamental lion, we harvested twenty pounds of honey this week; a sap of sweet, slow, amber translucence.

View the Original article

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beautiful Vegetables and Fruits

Luscious Red Tommy Tomatoes

Vegetables and Fruits can be seen as works of art. Not in an Andy Warhol way but as examples of nature's bounty and craftsmanship. There is nothing like a kitchen full of summer's harvest. The reds of  tomatoes, the yellows of squash, the purple of grapes, the greens of peppers. All the different colors of vegetables and fruits make a wonderful and inspiring palate.

No wonder vegetables and fruits have been the inspiration of so many artists throughout the centuries.

Yellow and Red Peppers
Here are some bright red and yellow peppers.

Corn comes in abundant colors. It is used as decoration and is often the subject, or medium, of art.

Multi-colored Corn!

Strawberries at the market

Squash in all shapes and colors

Squash has many varieties, it's hard to believe they are all in the same plant family.

Colorful Veggies
Vegetables come in so many different shapes and colors. One can practically see all the vitamins and anti-oxidants jumping out from this picture.

Vegetables at the produce section

Check out all the different hues of green in these peppers:

Assorted Green, but Hot! peppers

Eggplants are a type of squash...  with many purple hues.

Purple eggplants

Next time you're eating vegetables, take a moment to enjoy their beauty... bon appetit!

Vegetable cornucopia

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Knockout Rose Tree

August 13th, 2011

For many many years roses were hybridized for fragrance, or hybridized for color, or for size. Things like hardiness and disease resistance were not as much of a concern. It is only recently that gardeners in general started worrying more about these more functional attributes. The “Knock Out” brand of rose is one such newer line that professes to be hardy and disease resistant.
I’ve been hearing about these for years, but never bought one. Then I got an offer from Brighter Blooms for a free plant (one of the benefits of being a garden blogger, you get swag). In particular they had a rose tree, and that really appealed to me.
A standard form plant is one in which a bush or weeping style plant has been either pruned, or more likely grafted, onto a standard (a trunk). Almost all weeping cherry trees sold are in fact standard form grafts, where a normal cherry is grown to the desired height, a weeping bud is grafted on, and then once it is established any regular cherry growth is pruned off.
So a rose tree isn’t a rose that genetically grows like a tree, it is just a rose shrub of one type of rose that has been grafted onto a strong trunk-like cane of another rose.
In anycase, to me the benefit of a standard form rose tree, was that it was easy to find room for it. I stuck it between two very large hardy hibiscus plants. The standard form provides height which provides separation. Had it been a normal shrub rose it would have been crowded by the hibiscus, it would have needed more room. In fact, if it had been a normal shrub, I would not have had room in my garden for it, anywhere. I’m really low on space, but the standard form allowed me to sneak it in there.

View the Original article

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Red Hot Poker – Something not to grow, and bunnies.

background: url( no-repeat;width: 12px;height: 12px;display: block;float: left;

View the Original article

Do Not Buy a Plastic Greenhouse

February 25th, 2012

In 2010 I blogged about a new little greenhouse I had bought covered in plastic. I bought it at Lowes and was pretty happy with it, it allowed me to start seeds early outdoors (I have problems indoors due to a lack of a south facing window, kids, and cats).

I gave it a pretty good recommendation, I hereby rescind that. In 2011 during the summer, one year old, I noticed the plastic had started to fail at the top. I even kept it in the shade most of the time. By now the plastic is all but gone on top, so much for holding in heat and moisture eh.

View the Original article

Friday, April 13, 2012

First Flower of 2012

My first bloom of 2012 has surfaced. A crocus as normal, this time out by the road. Though a yellow crocus again.

It bloomed on the 10th, which is early.

In 2011 my first bloom, also a yellow crocus was the 15th. In 2010 it was on the 16th, in 2009, again a yellow crocus, it was on the 15th. In 2008, which had a really cold Spring it wasn’t until early April. That is the extent of my records.

So it portends a slightly longer growing season to have it come a week earlier than the recent norm this year. Should get better yields on my fruit trees and vines, if a late cold snap doesn’t freeze off the buds. That is always a risk with an early Spring. The trees get all excited and start flowering and then a freeze comes and kills all the buds, vastly reducing or eliminating the fruiting potential for many plants for a full year. But a warm Spring is a good thing, so long as it lasts.

View the Original article


How sweet they’ve been, the first days of Spring. Though March played with our sense of seasonal order, growling out like a temperamental lion, we harvested twenty pounds of honey this week; a sap of sweet, slow, amber translucence.

View the Original article